30th Mar 2020
Gas and electricity suppliers have promised customers on pre-payment meters that they won’t be cut off during the coronavirus outbreak.
Pre-payment meters work via a top-up method, whereby customers must go to a post office or shop to top up their meters – in some cases this can be done online.
However, the latest government guidelines, following the COVID-19 outbreak, strongly advise individuals in high-risk groups to stay at home.
Many people have also lost jobs and their income as a result of government-enforced closures of some businesses including bars, restaurants and cafés.
This has left four million vulnerable customers with pre-payment meters concerned about being cut off by their energy supplier, either through not being able to leave the house to top up or as a result of a change in financial circumstances caused by the outbreak.
However, in an agreement between the government and energy suppliers, these customers will receive financial help. The government has reassured individuals that no one will be cut off during the pandemic.
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, said: “We recognise there will be many customers who will need additional support and reassurance, particularly those who are financially impacted or in vulnerable circumstances.”
Options available to customers include sending someone else to top up your meter, having a pre-loaded meter card sent to you in the post, or having funds added to your meter credit by your supplier.
Those affected financially can request to have debt repayments and bill payments reassessed, paused or reduced.
A letter to customers from the Energy Networks Association said 36,000 people were working to keep homes powered.
The letter said: “We look after your gas and electricity networks, and have well-practised contingency plans in place so we can keep your energy flowing. We want to reassure you that we are prepared.”